The Literary ProtéGéEs of the Lake Poets
Dennis Low's reevaluation of the Lake Poets as mentors begins with the controversial premise that Robert Southey was one of the nineteenthcentury's greatest champions of women's writing. Together with Wordsworth and Coleridge, Low argues, Southey tried to end what he perceived to be the cultural decline of literature by nurturing the creative talents of many exceptional women writers. Drawing on 3,000 unpublished manuscripts in England, Scotland and the United States, Low examines the lives and works of four of the Lake Poets' literary protegees: Caroline Bowles, Maria Gowen Brooks, Sara Coleridge and Maria Jane Jewsbury. Though diverse in terms of their literary production, these women were united in their defiant efforts to write against an increasingly stagnant cultural milieu and their negotiation, wholeheartedly encouraged by their mentors, of contemporary publishing mores. This scrupulously researched book is a valuable contribution to the study of littleknown women writers and to our understanding of the literary and publishing environment of Britain in the 1820s and 1830s.
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